reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fərn(t)s How to pronounce reference (audio) , ˈre-f(ə-)rən(t)s\

Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the act of referring or consulting
2 : a bearing on a matter : relation in reference to your recent letter
3 : something that refers: such as
b : something (such as a sign or indication) that refers a reader or consulter to another source of information (such as a book or passage)
c : consultation of sources of information
4 : one referred to or consulted: such as
a : a person to whom inquiries as to character or ability can be made
b : a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment given by someone familiar with the person
c(1) : a source of information (such as a book or passage) to which a reader or consulter is referred
(2) : a work (such as a dictionary or encyclopedia) containing useful facts or information

reference

adjective

Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 3)

: used or usable for reference especially : constituting a standard for measuring or constructing

reference

verb
referenced; referencing

Definition of reference (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to supply with references
b : to cite in or as a reference
2 : to put in a form (such as a table) adapted to easy reference

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Synonyms for reference

Synonyms: Noun

authority, source

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Examples of reference in a Sentence

Noun

references to an earlier event The numbers were calculated by reference to the most recent census. Reference to a map will make the position clear. She listed her former teacher as a reference when she applied for the job. Her former teacher gave her a reference when she applied for the job. Her teacher gave her a letter of reference.

Adjective

a list of reference materials

Verb

The book references many other authors who have written on this topic.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Believe it or not, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's photo call today actually contained some hidden references to their history as a couple. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "All the Hidden References You Missed in Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Royal Baby Photo Call," 8 May 2019 So-named by the previous owner who sold to the Papinchak’s, Polymath Park was initially designed to be a Usonian community, a reference to a Wrightian style of architecture meant to be more affordable and accessible. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "A Frank Lloyd Wright resort in Pennsylvania adds a new home," 3 May 2019 Flooded with flutes and one billion references to getting it on, Tory Lanez keeps it pretty explicit. Natalie Maher, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Sexiest Songs of 2019 (So Far)," 29 Mar. 2019 Harry the cat has some cute orange fur, obviously a reference to the prince's ginger hair. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle's Patronage Mayhew Just Named Kitties After Her, Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton," 31 Jan. 2019 The cities have a reference related to the family that was captured in that specific city, which is in fact their own city. Luisa Zargani | Wwd, latimes.com, "Kim Kardashian West and family star in Fendi’s #MeandMyPeekaboo campaign," 10 July 2018 For Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of his great symbols and a unique reference for the next generations. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Cristiano Ronaldo set to join Juventus from Real Madrid," 10 July 2018 For a while, as Daenerys' powers grew, some thought the prophecy might be a reference to the Mother of Dragons. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Is Arya Stark Actually Azor Ahai, the Prince That Was Promised, on Game of Thrones?," 29 Apr. 2019 The Arab League had been expected to consider readmitting Syria, but there was no reference to the subject in the final statement. Bouazza Bin Bouazza, The Seattle Times, "Arab League rejects Trump’s Israel policies at annual summit," 31 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The events of the first Bloodlines did take place in this world though, and could be referenced in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "15 years later, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is finally happening," 21 Mar. 2019 Now the bar cart generally gets referenced as a sign of magazine culture’s decline. Peter Kafka, Recode, "After Benioff’s big deal, Time is bringing back the bar cart," 17 Sep. 2018 The Center for Public Integrity’s story references a report published by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), which Pomper worked on. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "The US government has trouble keeping track of radioactive material," 17 July 2018 Danan said in a message Saturday, referencing the photo featured above. Patricia Madej, Philly.com, "Power outage to more than 1,700 Peco customers near Washington Avenue chocolate factory," 2 June 2018 Getty ImagesNBC McKinnon's Graham also referenced the #MeToo movement and the protestors who stormed the Capitol this week, fighting against Kavanaugh's appointment. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "'Saturday Night Live's' Locker Room Sketch About Brett Kavanaugh's Confirmation Is Too Real," 7 Oct. 2018 Lavin also referenced a July 2016 incident, where a federal employee with severe visual impairment reported falling into the gap between two cars in an empty station and scrambling out moments before the train pulled out of the station. Martine Powers, Washington Post, "Metro asks FTA to reconsider year-end deadline for installing safety barriers to 7000-series trains," 29 June 2018 Divac also referenced center Willie Cauley-Stein, an artist who has designed hats for the Kings and has a clothing line. Jason Jones, sacbee, "'Different side of me': Kings rookie Bagley plays to his own beat and raps to it, too," 23 June 2018 The letter didn’t reference the tax measure, but noted that Apple was committed to partnering with the city on solutions to the area’s growing traffic congestion. Nour Malas, WSJ, "Cupertino City Council Balks at New Tax After Apple Objects," 1 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reference.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of reference

Noun

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1856, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for reference

Last Updated

22 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reference

The first known use of reference was in 1579

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More Definitions for reference

reference

noun

English Language Learners Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the act of mentioning something in speech or in writing : the act of referring to something or someone
: the act of looking at or in something for information
: a person who can be asked for information about another person's character, abilities, etc.

reference

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 3)

: used to find information about something
: used to tell people where information can be found

reference

verb

English Language Learners Definition of reference (Entry 3 of 3)

: to mention (something or someone) in speech or in writing : to refer to (something or someone)

reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fə-rəns How to pronounce reference (audio) , ˈref-rəns\

Kids Definition of reference

1 : the act of looking at or in something for information Reference to a map will make our location clear.
2 : a relation to or concern with something I am writing in reference to your advertisement.
3 : the act or an instance of mentioning They made no references to my error.
4 : a work (as a dictionary) that contains useful information
5 : something that refers a reader to another source of information
6 : a person who can be asked for information about another person's character or ability
7 : a written statement about someone's character or ability

reference

adjective
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈref-(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce reference (audio) \

Medical Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of known potency and used as a standard in the biological assay of a sample of the same drug of unknown strength a dose of reference cod-liver oil

reference

Medical Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 2)

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reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-frəns, -fə-rəns How to pronounce reference (audio) \

Legal Definition of reference

1 : an act of referring specifically : mention or citation of one document (as a statute) in another a municipality may adopt by reference all or a part of this title Alaska Statutes — see also incorporate
2 : a referral especially to a legislative committee or master also : an order referring a matter to a master the extent to which any party is more responsible than other parties for the reference to a master Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 53(g)

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Comments on reference

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